nijuushikou 二十四孝
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: ershisixiao. Lit. twenty-four paragons of filial piety. A popular theme in Chinese figure painting based on the Yuan dynasty text Ershisihang Xiaoxinglu (Jp: NIJUUYONSHOU KOUKOUROKU 二十四章孝行録; Records of filial piety in 24 chapters) by Guo Jujing (Jp: Kaku Kyokei 郭居敬). The selection of 24 pious children as paragons of filial piety that have been extensively celebrated in Japanese art. Pictorial representations of filial paragons are known from various records to date from at least the Six dynasties. However, the 24 paragons from the Yuan text became the standard version for pictorialization. Their basic stories (which follow below) appear in numerous paintings from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The theme entered Japan in the Momoyama period. Although the Japanese compiled their own 24 native models of filial behavior, in art the standard Yuan version of the Chinese paragons was preferred. The theme appeared frequently in *nara- ehon 奈良絵本 and didactic texts, as well as in notable paintings by painters of the Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派: such as Kanou Eitoku 狩野永徳 (1543-90; Nanzenji 南禅寺) and Kanou Sanraku 狩野山楽 (1559-1635; Boston Museum). The "24 paragons" were also a popular subject for parody in the hands of *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 artists. The standard 24 paragons and their basic stories are:
1. Dashun (Jp: Taishun 大舜), a legendary emperor of ancient history, who, despite a neglectful father who favored his cruel step-mother and her son, went to cultivate land for his parents on Mt. Li 歴, where an elephant and bird helped him with the difficult task.
2. Wendi (Jp: Buntei 文帝), the second emperor of the Han dynasty, is said to have pre-tasted the food of his mother the empress dowager.
3. Ding Lan (Jp: Tei Ran 丁蘭), after the early death of his mother, carved a wooden image of her to which he paid his respects. Returning home one day he found a frown on the face of the statue and learned that his wife had insulted his late mother. He apologized to the wooden image and severely scolded his wife.
. Meng Zong (Jp: Mou Sou 孟宗), fulfilled his sick mother's wish to eat bamboo shoots in mid-winter by journeying to a snow covered bamboo grove, where after praying to heaven, he miraculously found a huge cache of delicious bamboo shoots beneath the snow.
5. Min Ziqian (Jp: Bin Shiken 閔子騫), after his father found out that he was being mistreated by a mean step-mother and threatened to abandon the new, ill-tempered wife and her child, entreated his father to have mercy on the woman.
6. Zeng Can (Jp: Sou Shin 曾参), who was gathering wood in the forest one day when his mother back at home bit her own finger in anger at her son's absence. Feeling his mother's distress, he immediately returned home.
7. Wang Xiang (Jp: Ou Shou 王祥), when his step-mother wanted to eat fresh fish in mid-winter, went to a frozen pond and lay on the ice (naked, by some accounts) until it broke and he could catch fish for her.
8. Lao Laizi (Jp: Rou Raishi 老莱子), at age 70 still dressed and behaved like an infant to amuse his parents.
9. Jiang Shi (Jp: Kyou Shi 姜詩), along with his wife, travelled great distances to get good water and fresh carp desired by his aged mother. However, one day a fresh spring suddenly bubbled up in their own garden and provided excellent water as well as fish.
10. Tang Furen (Jp: Tou Fujin 唐夫人) or wife Tang, suckled at her breasts her toothless grandmother.
11. Yang Xiang (Jp: You Kou 楊香), at age 14, was accompanying his father into the mountains when a hungry tiger leapt out at them. Without thinking of his own life, the son protectively jumped in front of his father and thus scared off the tiger with his show of determined will.
12. Dong Yong (Jp: Tou Ei 董永), needing to raise money for his father's burial, indentured himself to a weaver. One day he met a woman who, in the first hour after their marriage, wove enough silk to fulfill the terms of Dong's contract, and then revealed herself to be the weaver maiden shokujo 織女 (Ch: zhinu) and ascended to heaven.
13. Huang Xiang (Jp: Kou Kou 黄香) fanned his widowed father to cool him in the summer and warmed his father's bed with his own body in the winter.
14. Wang Bao (Jp: Ou Hou 王褒), during thunder storms would rush to protect his mother's grave because she had feared lightning while alive.
15. Guo Ju (Jp: Kaku Kyo 郭巨), who, lamenting the fact that his aged mother was going hungry because food was being eaten by his infant son, prepared to bury the baby alive. While digging the grave he discovered a pot of gold with an attached note (or inscription) that the treasure was meant for him.
16. Zhu Shouchang (Jp: Shu Jushou 朱寿昌), after being separated from his mother at age seven, later became a high official. At about age 55 he retired from office and began to search for his mother. Finally, after writing a sutra with his own blood and praying to heaven, he found his mother.
17. Yanzi (Jp: Enshi えん子), disguised himself in a deer skin in order to capture a doe from which he needed milk to cure his parents' eye disease. Hidden in the deer herd he was mistaken for a deer by hunters who roundly scolded him. However, when they heard his explanation the hunters could only praise Yanzi.
18. Cai Shun (Jp: Sai Jun 蔡順), went to the forest to pick berries for his mother and divided his take into black, ripe berries and red, unripe berries. Later, when accosted by rebels and asked about the berries, he explained that he intended to eat the unripe berries and give the ripe ones to his mother. So impressed were the rebels that they gave Cai rice and meat to take home.
19. Yu Qianlou (Jp: Yu Kinrou ゆ黔婁), who, as a provincial governor, one day felt a pain in his heart and the premonition that his old father was ill. Upon making the long journey home, Yu found his father on his death bed and was told by a doctor that someone must taste the excrement of the sick man to determine if he would live or die. Yu performed the unpleasant task and when he learned of his father's impending demise, prayed all night that he might die in his father's place.
. Wu Meng (Jp: Go Mou 呉猛), at age eight, on summer nights, would let himself be bitten by mosquitos so as to spare his sleeping parents.
21. Zhang Xiao (Jp: Chou Kou 張孝) and Zhang Li (Jp: Chou Rei 張礼) were two brothers who, to support their 80 year old mother, gathered berries in the forest. One day on his way home Xiao was attacked by robbers. As he had no money the robbers wanted to kill him, but Xiao begged that he might first deliver the food. Just then Li appeared and offered his own life in place of his brother's. So impressed were the robbers that they set both brothers free and gave them salt and rice.
22. Tian Zhen (Jp: Den Shin 田真), Tian Guang (Jp: Den Kou 田広) and Tian Qing (Jp: Den Kei 田慶) were three brothers who inherited a purple rose tree upon their father's death. Fighting over ownership of the tree, they split it into thirds only to see the tree die. After this event the brothers lived harmoniously.
23. Huang Shangu (Jp: Kou Sankoku 黄山谷; 1045-1105), famous Northern Song calligrapher and poet, who was so devoted to his mother that he washed her chamber pot.
24. Lu Ji (Jp: Riku Seki 陸績), at age six, when invited to a rich neighbor's house was given oranges, but slipped them into his robes. Upon leaving the oranges fell out and Lu explained that he intended to take them home to his mother.


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